Beginning the NL East reviews with the Atlanta Braves.
Atlanta Braves Draft Review
1S) Matt Lipka, SS, Texas HS: Already signed away from Alabama for $800,000, Lipka features blazing speed and top-flight athleticism, but his power is uncertain and he might not stick at shortstop in the long run. He'll need some development time but profiles well as a future leadoff hitter.
2) Todd Cunningham, 3B-OF, Jacksonville State University: Considered a possible first rounder at one stage, but stock slipped a bit after a good-but-not-terrific spring. Should hit for average and get on base, power is uncertain against advanced pitching.
2) Andrelton Simmons, SS-RHP, Western Oklahoma State JC: Out of Curacao, most teams preferred him as a shortstop but the Braves will use his strong arm on the mound. Raw, can hit 95 MPH, but will need to learn how to pitch. NOTE: Simmons has signed but will apparently begin his career at shortstop after all.
3) Joe Leonard, 3B, University of Pittsburgh: Strong college season moved him up the charts, has a solid bat although some scouts question how his swing mechanics will work with wood. Should remain at third base despite mediocre running speed.
4) Dave Filak, RHP, SUNY-Oneonta: Blew away Division III competition with a 90-95 MPH fastball and a nasty breaking ball. Limited early in the year by a sore elbow, but a very nice pick in this round.
5) Phil Gosselin, 2B, University of Virginia: Runs well, solid bat with a touch of power, good defender, looks like he could be a really nice utility player with some chance to be a starter.
6) Joey Terdoslavich, 3B, Long Beach State University: Switch-hitter with raw power, track record is erratic but he has a lot of potential to develop further. Defense at third is questionable.
7) Matt Suschak, RHP, University of Toledo: Very successful when used in relief, due to 92-95 MPH heater and strong slider. Not as good when used as a starter due to problems changing speeds, but as a reliever he could move through system rapidly.
8) Kurt Fleming, OF, Virginia HS: Excellent speed and athleticism, was expected to go to school at Army, but his dad is a Braves crosschecker which makes it more likely that he'll sign.
9) David Rohm, 1B, Fresno Community College: Impressive power hitter from the CC ranks, and a sleeper to watch.
10) Matt Lewis, RHP, UC Davis: Solid 90-94 MPH fastball, but doesn't change speeds well and will need more polish than the average college arm.
FOUR OTHERS OF NOTE: 13-Brandon Drury, SS, Oregon HS; 17-Stefan Sabol, C-OF, California HS; 18-Zach Alford, 2B, Georgia HS; 22-Jordan Buckley, OF, New Mexico Junior College.
COMMENT: The Braves didn't load up on high school pitching this year, although Simmons is raw for a JC arm. Cunningham, Leonard, and Gosselin add some college hitting polish to the system, and Filak's arm is atypically impressive for a cold-weather small college guy. Lipka's athleticism and speed are very attractive, but he probably won't get to the majors quickly. Overall this looks like an OK draft, which could look a lot better if they somehow manage to sign Sabol or Alford.